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Carl and Lena Barger- A Legacy of the Triumph of Faith and Education

Carl and Lena Barger- A Legacy of the Triumph of Faith and Education
Carl and Lena Barger met at Westside Greers Ferry Elementary School in the second grade. They married on December 19, 1964 and have 3 children and 5 grandchildren. Together they have shared a life devoted to faith, family and careers in education in Arkansas. After retiring, they decided to find ways to create a lasting legacy to share their lifelong passions with future generations.

As 1 of the 12 children born to Edward and Mamie Barger and growing up in an Arkansas farming family in the 1950's and early 60's, Carl was never a stranger to hard work and looking for opportunities where others may only have seen roadblocks. His parents always hoped that their children's lives would be easier than theirs had been; and both wanted all their children to have a good education.

Carl remembers feeling fortunate when an Arkansas Tech recruiter, Paul Fisher, introduced him to Tech and offered him a work study position. Carl always loved history, but was inspired by great teachers and coaches like Sam Hindsman who asked Carl to be the team manager.

After graduating from Arkansas Tech in 1966 with a degree in Physical Education and History, Carl accepted his first teaching/coaching position at Pottsville, where he worked for half a year. Carl and Lena's first full year of coaching and teaching together was at Scotland Public Schools, Scotland, Arkansas during the 1966-67 school year. In 1967, Carl was employed as high school principal and senior high basketball coach at Southside Public Schools, Bee Branch, Arkansas. In 1969, after receiving his Master's degree in Education from UCA, Carl and Lena were hired at McNeil Public School System in McNeil, Arkansas. Carl was hired to coach all four basketball teams and Lena taught high school English. After two weeks of school, Carl, at the age of twenty-five was promoted to the superintendent position, becoming the youngest superintendent in Arkansas. During his first year at McNeil, he coached all four basketball teams and carried out the responsibility of being the school's superintendent. He continued in his role as superintendent at McNeil for five years. In 1974, he was named superintendent of Emerson Public Schools, Emerson, Arkansas.

In 1971, Lena gave up teaching at McNeil when she and Carl adopted their first child, Carla Lynn Barger. In 1973, they adopted their second child, a baby boy, Jeffrey Christopher Barger. Lena continued to stay home with their children until Carl took the Nashville Public School's superintendent's position in 1978. She returned to work as Nashville's high school librarian. It was at Nashville that Lena got pregnant with their biological son, Jonathan Curtis Barger. She again stopped teaching to stay at home with Jonathan Curtis until he became Kindergarten age.

In 1984, Carl became superintendent of the Bentonville Public School System in Bentonville, Arkansas. It was at this time that Lena returned to working as a teacher and was hired to teach English in the Oakdale Junior High School in Rogers, Arkansas. In 1989, Carl accepted the Warren Public School System's superintendent position where he served for eleven years before retiring in 2000. During their twelve years in Warren, Lena taught Junior High English in the Monticello Public School System.

After retiring from the Warren Public School System, Carl came out of retirement to take the Superintendent position with the Arkansas School for the Deaf.

In 2003, Carl retired as superintendent from the Arkansas School for the Deaf in Little Rock. At that point he was finally able to devote time to another of his lifelong interests — history. He began doing some genealogy work on his family tree and writing. To date he has traced his branch of the Barger Family back to the early 1800's in Morgan County, Tennessee and believes that his ancestors traveled from there to Ripley County, Missouri in the 1830's. With Lena's help in editing and proofing, his family's struggles during the Civil War became the focus of his first novel, Swords and Plowshares. In the book's overview, Carl states, "It is a story of their triumph over the rigors and hardships of frontier life during the 19th century, of their love and sorrow, their struggles and battles, their successes and failures, and of the abiding religious conviction that gave them the strength to endure. From a genealogical prospective, the book is a living family history–historical and genealogical research have been combined to bring to life generations of an American family. From an historical perspective, the novel provides a grippingly realistic portrayal of life in mid-nineteenth Century America and of the hardworking, God-fearing people who built this nation and held it together when it was torn asunder. Allen Barger and James Barger typify countless nameless legions of the common folk that made America what it is today, and the retelling of their story honors every family descended from the stalwart stock of the American frontier." Carl has also written: Cleburne County and It's People, Mamie, an Ozark Mountain Girl of Courage, Dark Clouds over Alabama, Blue Skies of El Dorado, which is a sequel to Dark Clouds over Alabama. He is currently working on his fifth novel which should be released sometime this summer. Lena has helped with all of these projects.

The Bargers have continued to be active supporters in education in Arkansas through gifts of treasure, talent and time. Carl served on the Arkansas Tech Alumni Board as President in 2006, and is currently serving on the Foundation Board. He is currently in his ninth year of serving on the Conway School Board, and is presently serving as vice-president. Together they are developing a trust and hope to give back to Tech to ensure the continuity of education of the past, present and future.
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